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Whatever Happened to BodyBuilding?
Over the last several months I have seen an attitude develop on the
web concerning Bodybuilding, that decries its very existence as a legitimate
purpose for lifting. Various foes of BodyBuilding call it an endeavor for
those "less than men" (or "less than women", also, I presume). BodyBuilders
are looked at as weaklings, mirror athletes, "non-strength trainers", and
general all-round burdens on society.? I am certainly not the last
apologist for the phenomenon today known as bodybuilding. The one that
seems to be based on who can come closest to death through dehydration
and starvation on stage, yet still retain some muscular lumps and survive
the night with only a minor coma. Rather I come to reminisce about the
noble pursuit of bodybuilding that most, and I mean MOST, of us began to
lift in the shadows of. Since PLUSA is not available on newsstands, and
MILO is only a title for the great majority of us, it is unlikely that
most of us got our first inspiration to lift from seeing a powerlifter
or rock tosser. Some of us were introduced to it through sports, or maybe
a family member lifted. But most of us likely picked up a copy of Muscular
Development magazine instead of Mad Magazine one day, or we grew up watching
Lou Ferrigino play "The Hulk" on TV. Bodybuilding is what drew us to lifting,
if we grew up in the 70's (and 80's, I suppose).
The first lifting book I ever purchased was Beef It, by Robert
Kennedy. Crazy title, inspirational book. Published in 1983, it was full
of exercise instructions, routines, and nutritional information that was
the height of the game at the time. It was also full of pics of the bodybuilders
who were at the height of the game at the time. Guys like Arnold and Franco
of course. But also guys like Lee Haney (before he had even done his first
Olympia), Serge Nubret, Lance Dreher,? Scott Wilson, Gerard Buinoud,
the Barbarian Brothers (Peter and David Paul), Sergio Oliva, Ali Mata,
Mohammed Makaway, Al Beckles, Tim Belknap, Larry Scott, John Cardillo (yes,
that same one), Greg DeFerro, Roy Callender, Bronston Austin, Jr., Casey
Viator, the Mentzer brothers, and on and on and on. Certainly the majority,
if not the entirety, used steroids to some degree. But not near to the
degree that they are used today. The book was written, almost innocently,
for the steroid user. It was assumed that you WOULD use steroids, since
all (figuratively) strength athletes at the time were using them. Certainly
powerlifters of the era (Bill Kazmier, Doyle Kennady, Dave Waddington,
etc. ) were likely using them as well. But, in spite of that, there was
some slight degree of believability for what was coming out of the mags
The exercises and routines were a a little different then, as well.
Pics of Serge Nubret doing flyes with 90 lb. d-bells, Bronston Austin squatting
for reps with 455 lbs., the Barbarian Brothers doing behind the neck presses
with 315 lbs. Not the "posed" pics with exquisite lighting and strategic
beads of sweat. Just pics of guys in the gym. Routines focussed around
big compound moves, with finishing exercises that were "exotic", like leg
extensions or leg curls. No real machine work to speak of, except for the
Mentzers who liked to work out on Nautalis equipment. Most of those guys
were strong. Very strong, even. They were not training to powerlift (although
some of them had, before and would after. Does anybody remember Bev Francis?),
so maybe limit strength was sacrificed, but none-the-less they were strength
athletes. The state of anabolic drugs and patterns of use during that time?
required a lot of time under heavy loads to produce growth. Don't be fooled
into thinking these were guys hanging around a fitness clubs Smith Machines.
I kind of miss those days. The routines were not very productive for
a natural lifter, Joe Weider ruled the universe, and Arnold was the biggest
thing going, but they (all of them) got me into the game. And while I am
more of a powerlifter than anything these days, I am still "bodybuilder"
enough to want to stay reasonably trim and lean. I haven't forgotten that
by Stuart McRobert was written for and by a bodybuilder. That guys like
Grimek, Scott, Columbu, and Pearl were not "pantywaist mirror boys", and
Freddy Ortiz had the nicest arms, ever......
So if you bodybuild, then give it your best. Do it honestly and pay
your dues under the iron. Squat, bench, deadlift, and curl your way to
your size. Don't let an ignorant blowhard tell you your not "true to the
game", because you are playing it the way it has been played for years.
It isn't your fault some have forgotten its roots, and have allowed themselves
to be fooled by what surrounds them. What is called bodybuilding today,
is not what it was 10, 20 and 30 years ago. And that's the truth.....
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